What's on YOUR Shelf of Shame?

Cindy: Okay, I admitted to not having read Nancy Werlin’s Edgar Adward-winning, multiple-starred-review novel Killer’s Cousin until just recently. What childrens or YA title is on your “shelf of shame?” Some of us spent waaaay too much time reading Nancy Drew books as a teen and missed out on some classics. A few years ago a book review assignment for Feels Like Home by E. E. Charlton-Trujillo (Random, 2007) sent me scrambling to read S. E. Hinton’s classic, The Outsiders, so that I wouldn’t miss the nuanced tributes. I have more than a shelf’s worth of books, but it is your turn to fess up: tell Bookends what book is on your “shelf of shame?”

Lynn: So my first blogging task after coming back from vacation is to admit my humiliating lapses? I think I’m ready to go back to Virginia! OK, I’ll play. There were a fun few years when Cindy and I worked in the same middle school library. We hatched a lot of crazy schemes and did tag-team booktalks. Cindy had terrific booktalks for On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer and Brock Cole’s Goats. I never read either book! Later when we were working alone, I just used Cindy’s booktalks – still never getting around to reading these classics. ACK! There are more but I’ll stop. OK, everyone, fess up.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

30 Comments on "What's on YOUR Shelf of Shame?"

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  1. scopenotes@gmail.com' Scope Notes says:

    I hesitate to admit this, I really do, since this is a big one and I’ll probably lose credibility. But since I have begun to correct the problem, I feel slightly better in saying that I hadn’t read the Harry Potter series until last year (and I’m not through it yet). I hope to have this glaring flaw set straight as soon as I can make my way through book 7.

  2. What a brave soul! I’m sure you’re not alone. Are you going to tell us what you think of the series so far?–Cindy

  3. 4sarad@gmail.com' Sara Douglas says:

    I hate to say this, but I didn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird until last year. I have no idea how I escaped middle and high school without reading that one! My biggest shame of the moment is probably The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It has been on my list forever but keeps being put off when new books get released and I just HAVE TO read them the second they go on sale.

  4. gordonlm@clarkston.k12.mi.us' Lynn Gordon says:

    I admit it – I am a media specialist in an elementary school, and I cannot bring myself to read that intimidating Redwall series. I love fantasy. Harry Potter and I clicked immediately. Fairy and folk tales were my calling when I was a child – I read James and the Giant Peach more times than I could count when I was in fourth grade. Susan Cooper’s “The Dark is Rising” sequence is a favorite. I tried the first book, and I just couldn’t appreciate the rodents.

  5. ksiewer@tulsalibrary.org' Karl G. Siewert says:

    Since I’ve joined the YA ranks (starting about a year ago) I’ve had a long list of must-reads that I feel I should have under my belt, but I keep finding other things on the shelf and reading them first. I did manage to read all of the Newbery and Sequoyah (Oklahoma’s youth fiction award) books to date.

    My shelf of shame would include Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Autobiography of My Dead Brother, How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found, Life as We Knew It, Feed, Chains, Copper Sun, and the Alex Rider books.

  6. Sara, Lynn, and Karl. Great comments. Now Lynn and I are not feeling so alone! Perks of Being a Wallflower is another one on my shelf of shame, but since I’m a middle school librarian I know I’m not going to be able to promote it there. Still, it’s on my to-read list. Lynn-at least you tried the rodents. I only read the first two and loved them, but haven’t made time for the rest. They always made me so hungry with the feasts. Where is a glass of good nut brown ale when you need it? Karl, don’t miss FEED. Don’t. Thanks for playing!–Cindy

  7. scorbett1@aol.com' Sue Corbett says:

    Have tried twice. Have not yet gotten all the way through Criss Cross. I try to read all the Newbery candidates before they win but if I miss one, I usually read it immediately after the announcements. Could not get myself to finish it. And I loved All Alone in the Universe. Sigh . . .

    (p.s. I loved the We Read Everything video.)

  8. aperrigo@alleganlibrary.org' Ann says:

    Lynn G.–You could try reading Redwall the way my son did. He didn’t like a scary parts at all, so just read the chapters that took place in the Abbey!

    My shelf of shame? It’s huge! Let’s start with whole AUTHORS unread: Sarah Dessen and E.R. Frank! And a title that I’ve been meaning to read since it was first published?? A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer. WHY have I never taken this home??

    Sigh… Too many books–WAY too many books…

  9. hmurdoch@smroyals.org' Helen says:

    I am going to go back in time to admit to books I should have read: Where the Red Fern Grows; Watership Down; Old Yeller…that’s enough of a confession, right? This is my first year as a Teacher Librarian and I am at a high school. My summer reading list is HUGE! I am excited to sit and read, read, then read some more.

  10. mdoane@kdl.org' Morgan says:

    Ready for my list?! It’s shameful!

    I have read NOTHING by these famous YA peeps:
    Paul Zindel
    Nancy Farmer
    Garth Nix
    D.J. MacHale

  11. bdubbink@zps.org' Beth says:

    I hang my head in shame to report a few on my shelf:

    A Wrinkle In Time
    The Old Man and the Sea
    Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

    Sigh….maybe this summer….

  12. I’m glad I’m not alone in my shame ūüėČ I’ll even admit further, Helen, that although I read Watership Down, I loathed it! Hanging my head now – Lynn

  13. simerj@deercreek.k12.ok.us' Jennifer says:

    I’m a middle school librarian and I hate to admit that I have never read the Redwall series either – although I often recommend it to students based on other students’ raves. I also have to add the Chronicles of Narnia to my shelf of shame!

  14. wmayes@girlsms.org' Walter Mayes says:

    I don’t consider my having read only one or part of a major series as shameful–I got 1/3 of the way through Harry #4 and decided I’d had enough, and I’ve never regretted it. And I see no reason that I should have to read all of the Redwall, Traveling Pants, or Twilight books.

    Nor do I consider my skipping entirely over series by authors whose popularity make them sure-fire titles to recommend to kids–James Patterson, Anthony Horowitz, Tamora Pierce, and Erin Hunter being excellent examples. There are too many books that need my help to get into the hands of readers, so I focus my energies there.

    But if you’re talking shame, there are some doozies I’ve never read:

    The Secret Garden
    The Sally Lockhart books
    A Day No Pigs Would Die

    ..and I’ve never seen Casablanca, either.

  15. pklein712@comcast.net' Pat Klein says:

    I’m embarrassed to say that I never read Animal Farm or 1984. They just never floated to the top. Of course, now that I’ve admitted it, I have to make them bubble up.

  16. kakoskela@hotmail.com' Katy Koskela says:

    So many of the titles mentioned I have to admit I’ve never even heard of! I resisted reading Harry Potter as well as the Twilight series because “everyone” said I “had” to read them!! I finally feel it’s time. Also want to read the Austen and Bronte classics which, since I can’t remember at all, feel that qualifies as a “not read.” Sigh….

  17. mikitchenlady@gmail.com' Pam L. says:

    I’m a new media specialist (okay, one without a media center — at least not yet), and have only just begun my venture in to children’s/young adult literature. I’ve been working hard to catch up, but have my list:

    The Chocolate War
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
    The Catcher in the Rye
    Lord of the Flies

    Not sure I’ll read those last two any time soon. I would suggest to the person who hasn’t read 1984 or Animal Farm – I think there are better more modern YA lit examples than those two, like Little Brother instead of 1984.


  18. bhalv@nioga.org' Betsy says:

    There is so much on my shelf of shame – both YA and adult.

    However, I feel most shameful admitting that I absolutely cannot stand The Catcher in the Rye. I think it’s completely overrated and Holden is just irritating.

  19. mdoane@kdl.org' Morgan says:

    I ? Holden Caufield

  20. mdoane@kdl.org' Morgan says:

    That should be I heart Holden Caufield!

  21. katie@pixiepalace.com' Rosepixie says:

    Mine would be Anne of Green Gables (or any of the Anne series, or anything by L. M. Montgomery). I’ve read most of the “classics”, especially the Kids/YA ones, but every time I’ve tried a Montgomery book I end up not getting very far! The only one I still own I’ve started probably eight times over the course of my life (my grandmother gave it to me when I was maybe ten) and still haven’t managed to make it even half-way. I keep meaning to, it just somehow never works!

  22. kgraff@ala.org' Keir says:

    I’ve been mulling a response to this all week, but it’s tough because my list is so long. I don’t work in the children’s/YA arena, specifically, but as a book person/Booklister/father I definitely feel that I ought to be well-versed in the field. But of my many sins of unreading, To Kill a Mockingbird really stands out. I’m really hesitant to admit this because, at Booklist, Ben Segedin has so far taken all the heat for not reading TKAM, and I’ve seen how rough the ribbing can be. But now the time has come for me to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ben and shout my shame to the world.

    What’s that, Ben, you weren’t ready to shout it? Sorry.

    I also haven’t read the Harry Potters, but my older son will be at the right age before long, and I’m sure I’ll read them with him.

  23. Keir, thanks for being brave. I hope the ribbing goes easy, although I think Ben gets a few free jabs. Should you decide to address this omission from your reading accomplishments, I highly recommend the Sissy Spacek narrated audio. When you two read TKAM, maybe I’ll finally finish Pride & Prejudice…without the zombies.–Cindy (Oh, and don’t blink, your son will be done with HP VII and studying TMAM in high school before you know it.)

  24. The list is MUCH too long to include in one tiny reply box, but the book that is plaguing me most, because I keep vowing to read it, and then for various reasons don’t manage to even crack the cover is…. The City of Ember by Duprau.
    The book has actually been on and off my shelf of shame at least three times! I pull it off the shelf, intent on starting, then things happen, and before I know it I’m doing a room cleanup because company’s coming, and I find myself putting it BACK on the shelf of shame…. Aaaaaarrrrggghhhhhhh!

    Thanks – I feel much better for having gotten that off my chest. I think I’ll go grab City of Ember and … Oh wait.., I definitely need a cup of tea before I begin…

  25. crowell@warrenlib.org' Lina says:

    As a few others have fessed up to this omission, I will too. I did not read To Kill a Mockingbird until last year and I really don’t know why. Now I’m so glad I did because that book blew me away! It is easily one of my all-time favorites. And to further confess . . . there are a lot of gaps in my reading history as I have missed quite a few classics but am quite well caught up in my Newbery reading. I didn’t read Holes until quite recently either, and that’s another one that I LOVED once I finally read it. So many books, so little time (sigh).

  26. mclachlan.karen3@gmail.com' Karen McLachlan says:

    I just made the happy discovery of this blog yesterday and the Shelf of Shame immediately caught my attention because I have a HUGE shelf full. One that I feel most guilty about is Looking for Alaska, which is going home with me this summer. Another is Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, also in my going home pile.

    One thing that thrilled me is that I finally found a fellow Catcher In the Rye hater, and someone else who only got part way through HP IV and gave up – me too! Do I get forty lashes now?

    AS for TKAM, I read it in high school and but couldn’t see anything wonderful about it. Now, as an adult, I read it again and I finally get it!

  27. mclachlan.karen3@gmail.com' Karen says:

    Whew! You asked a hard question – it took me awhile to remember how I heard about Bookends. Finally found it – I picked Bookends out of Amanda’s blog list at A Patchwork of Books.

    You should see my “take home for summer” pile – summer won’t be nearly long enough!

  28. labsnbooks@aol.com' Brenda Kahn says:

    I tried to be clever, but ended up writing too much and decided to post the “essay” to my own blog in a minute. Thank you, by the way, for linking to my blog to your sidebar. I just noticed it.

    Anyway, I have 223 books upstairs in my bedroom’s “tbr” pile. That is on top of the 20 I have to review this summer (downstairs, next to my desk) and the 50 books and arcs that I collected at my first BEA (in tote bags on the dining room floor).

    My shelf of shame: Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer, Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Wide Awake by David Levithan. Of course, I can’t read the sequels to the first two titles. I love the work of these authors and I cringe when I see them.

    Of course, each day brings new titles to my attention. I think I need an intervention.

    • I’ll look for the full essay on your blog later, Brenda. Everyone has been so forthcoming in their comments here that I feel I need to confess to another one. I have’t read Airborn or its sequels either, which is why Lynn did a solo post on Starclimber. Her review has made me promise to catch up on these books this summer.–Cindy

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